Collaborating with published author

Published 3:33 pm Monday, April 5, 2010

In the old days, we called them comic books and they involved superheroes; however, today, a new genre of literature has emerged that combines artwork with more literary storylines.

Yesterday’s comic books have morphed into today’s more literary cousins — called graphic novels.

When Valley Intermediate School Media Specialist Mary Foy first heard children’s author and graphic novelist, Michael Dahl, speak at an American Association of School Librarians conference, she knew she wanted him to visit Valley Intermediate.

“Michael Dahl is a great storyteller, and he gives a great presentation,” Foy said.

In March, Foy’s persistence and connections brought that great storyteller to Pelham. Foy credits Capstone Publishing representative David Burrows and the publishing company for funding Dahl’s trip.

Working with Valley Intermediate’s Gifted Resource Specialist, Amanda Miller, Foy formulated a plan. Gifted students researched inventors and scientists to create comics of their discoveries.

When Dahl arrived at the school, he met with approximately 20 gifted students for a work session in the library. Dahl, an author of more than 50 children’s books, commented on the students’ work.

Miller said, “Having Michael Dahl serve as the authentic audience for my gifted students was wonderful. Knowing that Dahl would review their work gave the students the nudge they needed to finish their time-consuming research and comic creation.”

Both Miller and Foy were impressed by the rapport Dahl had with VIS students.

Collaborating with a published author was exciting for the kids. Fifth grader Emily Toole said, “To have a real author read my work was amazing.”

Dahl’s work session with the comic creators was followed by his school-wide presentation and autograph session.

Meeting the author and then listening to him speak passionately about his work reveals the process of becoming a writer.

“Our author visit became an author experience,” Foy said.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at